The importance of delegation

I remember I had a project to build a robot at university. I was the one who bought the chocolate and did the talking, whereas the other people in my team did the real work. However, the combination of our skills meant that the end result was great, and I think we were graded as one of the top projects. 
I have seen some of my colleagues really struggle with delegating and the reasons I have found are:

  • The person I am delegating can not do the job as well as me, so I want to do it myself.
  • The person I am delegating the job to won’t do it quick enough.
  • I will spend more time delegating it than actually doing it myself.
These justifications will stop your company growth and cause real stress. When these objections come up for me I ask myself – do I want to be doing these jobs forever? If the answer is yes – don’t delegate. If your aim is to grow your business and progress your own role and fulfilment, the answer will almost certainly be no.
So, what have I learnt? Firstly, you can’t expect someone to psychically know how to do the job. You have to spend the time training the task; for the first time, and until they feel comfortable. Of course you can do the job more quickly yourself, but this will save you lots of time in the future.
Secondly, ask yourself the question, ‘why do I care about this job so much? Why do I not want to pass the job over?’  The answer is probably something like, ‘last time it went wrong there was a huge problem!’ This relates to my next point which is passing over responsibility, not just the task.
  • Make clear to all people who are likely to be effected by the task, who is now responsible.
  • Make clear to the person that you are passing it to all possible problems if it goes wrong.
This leads to my final, and probably most difficult, point – especially if you own your own business. Let other people make mistake (as long as they are not too big!). Fundamentally, the reason why you care so much is because you have made a mistake before.
You care even more when it is your own business and your own money. This makes it very difficult to witness mistakes happening. You can undertake detailed training, but people make mistakes and things go wrong – let them happen. This isn’t bad management; this is a fundamental part of people’s development.
Once someone has made a mistake and they know the repercussions, they will absolutely try their best to not make the same mistake or any mistakes in the future.
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